The league was turned upside down more than once over the season.
The consensus league favorite Miami ended up on the bottom of the league when the regular season ended. But it was the Redhawks who pulled the series upset at first place Saint Cloud State moving on to shutting out North Dakota in the first round of the Frozen Faceoff. It wasn’t until Denver and the championship game that Miami’s run ended in a 4-3 loss.
And it wasn’t just Miami making turn arounds. Denver was not pegged to be sixth in the league standings, but that did not stop them from grabbing the NCHC auto-bid. The auto-bid was the only way the Pioneers were to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of the NCAA Tourney, the NCHC ended up with three teams. Not necessarily surprising looking at the teams in the league. But the way things shook out, especially the poor non-conference records by many of the league teams, it is still surprising that three make it. But the result is North Dakota is seeded #13 and Denver #15 in the 16 team field. For that matter, Saint Cloud is #9.
Successful? Yes, for the number of teams in the tourney, but the “super conference” theory proof looks more towards many teams beating each other up for a regular season. The NCAA tourney seedings is evidence of that.
In short, the league survived the absence of two of the three near-by schools, Saint Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth, while putting on a good show and getting pretty good attendance. The Target Center still has room to improve as a hockey venue, but much was learned over the weekend and changes are already in the works for next year.